NPR allowed ex-McCain aide to claim that McCain's fundraising has lagged because he doesn't like it


On the April 25 broadcast of National Public Radio's Morning Edition, while discussing Sen. John McCain's (R-AZ) official entry into the 2008 presidential race, host Steve Inskeep asked former McCain campaign manager Mike Murphy: "Does John McCain like doing all the things that you have to do to run for president?" Murphy replied: "He doesn't particularly like beating contributors out of money." Murphy said that this might be "one reason" McCain has had "some trouble" in his campaign, and added, "In some ways, I think that's a compliment to him."

Others in the past have also explained McCain's poor fundraising performance by claiming that he simply doesn't like it. As Media Matters for America noted, on-screen text shown during the March 28 edition of MSNBC News Live read: "How Will McCain's Dislike of Fundraising Affect His Campaign?" Other on-screen text displayed during the same segment emphasized other candidates' fundraising success -- "Mitt Romney Raised $6.5 Million in One Day," "Rudy Giuliani Has Held 57 Fundraisers So Far," and "Edwards Campaign Received Half a Million in Last 5 Days" -- leaving the impression that McCain, alone among the presidential candidates, happens to "dislike" fundraising. Furthermore, on March 25, the Associated Press quoted McCain asserting that he enjoys campaigning "more than I enjoy raising money," but the article added that McCain's campaign "said he has about 40 [fundraisers] scheduled before the start of May."

From the April 25 broadcast of National Public Radio's Morning Edition:

MURPHY: I think he's kind of getting boxed into the corner of being portrayed as a single-note supporter of a war that's had a lot of failures in it, which I think loses some context.

The final point I'd make about it, and it's the most, kind of, inside political one, is the early McCain strategy was to become to traditional front-runner -- the guy with the most money, the most endorsements, the most everything. And I'm not sure that campaign really fit John McCain. He's not a front-runner kind of guy. Rudy Giuliani based on name ID and popularity, Mitt Romney based on fundraising and early state organization have both broken through, so there's no front-runner now. But I think it could be an opportunity for McCain now to be what he's best at: the scrappy, come-from-behind guy. I think that's an easier campaign for him, and I think if he finds himself in those roots, he may have a comeback.

INSKEEP: Does John McCain like doing all the things that you have to do to run for president?

MURPHY: He doesn't particularly like beating contributors out of money. And I think that's one reason he has some trouble. In some ways, I think that's a compliment to him, but the reality of running for president is you've got to be good at raising money because money buys speech, advertising, message.

McCain's a fighter. So he likes finding a bully or somebody who's wrong and abusive about it, and fighting them -- whether it's political or from a policy basis. And that's why I think being a little behind in the polls now, and not being kind of the cruising front-runner, you know, "man in the gray suit" organizational candidate. I think this new situation, while at first glance it looks rougher for him, is better terrain for the real McCain to do what he does well, which is go out and connect with people and take the sharp side of issues that people may not agree with him on, but he earns some respect for telling the truth.

Posted In
Elections, Campaign Finance
Morning Edition
John McCain, 2008 Elections
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.